Home History Rotating Controls


First an overview of the three panels I decided to build. In the following pages I'll go into more detail about how I built them.


So now I know I can have three panels, how should I build each one... The whole reason I even found out about MAME back in 1999 was when I was surfing the Net looking for sites with my all time favorite game - Defender. So I decided to have one control panel be a replica of the Defender control panel. Since the Defender controls are much different that almost every other game out there, I wanted a panel to emulate that eactly. You can get away with a generic layout for most games since most games only use one or two buttons, and those that use more usually have all their buttons together in one spot - but not Defender, this game has five buttons spread out in a unique pattern. Additionally, Defender uses a 2-way up/down joystick which is also very rare. So I decided to make Control Panel #1 a replica of the Defender panel so I could really relive my youth. Another favorite game of mine is Asteroids. Ateroids has a very similar control panel as Defender luckily, all I needed was one additional button next to the Defender "reverse" button so that the panel also matched the Asteroids layout. This didn't take away from the Defender layout so I decided to add it. Perfectly enough, this extra button for Asteroids also acts as the "Inviso" button for Stargate, the sequel to Defender. So now with the extra Asteroids button the layout also matched closely the Stargate layout (the "inviso" button is not in the exact spot that the Stargate game had it in, but I actually like it better where I have it). I also added an Oscar Pro spinner to this panel since it didn't get in the way at all with the Defender/Asteroids layouts and it fit perfectly in the empty space in the middle of the panel. Tempest and Arknoid are other favorites of mine, so this panel gets a good workout. Back in High School I would hang out during my off periods at a place called Andy's Luncheonette. In the back of that luncheonette for almost a whole year there was a Defender and a Tempest machine. The Tempest machine eventually got swtiched out for other games, but the Defender machine stayed for years (luckily!).

HARDWARE USED ON CP #1: (1) Happ Ultimate 8-way joystick with an Oscar Controls 2-way restrictor (I had a hard time finding find good 2 way joysticks so I used an 8-way with restrictors), (6) Happ pushbuttons with Horizontal Microswitchs, (1) Oscar Pro Spinner

Here is a picture of this control panel:


The second panel is a "standard" two player panel. Not that I did a scientific study, but 98% of twp player games involve a joystick and up to 6 buttons for each player, so that is what I went with on this panel. There are a few two player games involving 2 trackballs, 2 steering wheels, etc., but not many. Instead of loading up a panel with all those different options, I decided to keep it clean and stick with something that will cover the 98% of the games. I also do not account for being able to play 4 player games with 4 people (4 sets of controls). Even when I have a number of people over, or even with my 3 kids here, I do not feel I am losing much not being able to offer 4 simultaneous player games - you can play those games, but just with two players at a time (i.e. Simpsons, NBA Jam, etc). In order to accomodate 4 sets of controls, the panel would have to be much bigger than something I could rotate. So I went with a two player and have been quite satisfied. As for the layout, it is pretty simple. I went with 6 buttons each - most games only need 2 or maybe 3, but there is enough games that use 6 each that I figured it was worth the effort. Buttons are cheap, so might as well throw them on. I layed my buttons out in a normal straight line. Some people curve each row of 3 buttons in an arc - look at the three middle fingers on your hand, the ones you use during game play, the tips are not straight across but in an arc. This seems like a cool idea to me, but I built prototype controls that way and they didn't feel comfortable to me so I went the normal straight way. You may want to try the arc shape out for yourself. Also, the two joysticks are layed out in the same manner as another favorite game, Robotron. As with my control panel #1, there was a perfect space in the middle of the two player control sets to fit another control - the trackball. This layout also comes in handy for one of my other favorite games, Missle Command, since the three fire buttons for Missle Command are replicated by one row of three buttons on this board. The trackball is translucent red and is illuminated underneath by 4 SuperBright LED's (hard to see in this picture, but it glows very nice)

HARDWARE USED ON CP #1: (2) Happ Ultimate 8-way joysticks, (12) Happ pushbuttons with Horizontal Microswitchs, (1) Happ 3" Highball trackball (translucent red), (1) Glowire 4 Cluster Superbright white LED

Here is a picture of this control panel:


The third and last control panel is a "standard" one player control panel. Again, the purpose of the rotating panels was so that I didn't have "cluttered" panels. Also, I did not like the idea of playing my 1 player games on a 2 player panel. When playing a 1 player game on a 2 player panel, you end up standing off to the left side of the cabinet instead of in the middle. Since 90% of the time I would be playing the machine by myself, I did not want to spend 90% of my time off to the left side of the cabinet. Making a 1 player panel were I could set it up so I could stand correctly in the middle of the cabinet seemed like a perfect idea. I'd already taken care of spinner games on panel #1, trackball games on panel #2, so there was no need for either of those items again. Pretty much all that is left are joystick/button games. Most games in this category are either 8 way joystick games (like Gyruss, 1941) or 4 way joysticks (like Pac-Man). There are also a number of 2 way joystick games (like Galaga), but the 4 way joystick works fine with these games, so I didn't find a need to include a 2 way joystick. As with panel #2, I inlcuded 6 buttons which cover every game.

HARDWARE USED ON CP #1: (2) Happ Ultimate 8-way joysticks, one in the middle using an Oscar Controls 4-way restrictor, (6) Happ pushbuttons with Horizontal Microswitchs,

Here is a picture of this control panel:

On to the Panels Cunstruction page for details of the construction of these panels.

Feel free to email me at doug@dgthompson.com